I was catching up on my metaverse news this morning, and realized I missed the announcements about Virtual Worlds 2007, a conference about the future of Virtual Worlds in a number of areas, including entertainment and marketing. Now, opinions may be divided about Virtual Worlds like Second Life, but if you look at the speakers lined up for this conference, it’s clear that a lot of people are taking it seriously. Keynotes include speakers from IBM Research, Nickelodeon, and MTV. In addition, there are featured speakers from the Centers for Disease Control, Harvard Business Review, Sundance Channel, CNET News, and Walt Disney Parks.
In addition, there will also be speakers from Linden Labs (Second Life), Entropia Universe, Whyville, and other virtual worlds.
The conference is scheduled for March 28-29, 2007 in New York City.
Today on Directions on the News there was an item about how VRCO has released their next version of Conduit for Google Earth. The Conduit software is a translator that allows COTS software (OpenGL based) to pushed through a graphics cluster to be projected onto multiple screens. WVU tasked FakeSpace/VRCO to implement Conduit for ArcScene and ArcGlobe (and hopefully AGX soon) a year ago as part of our CAVE hardware installation for our GeoVirtual Laboratory. Click on the picture to get a larger version of the image to get an idea of how GIS information (in this case a historic reconstruction of Morgantown, WV in 1900 created by Sue and our undergrads) can be viewed on multiple 8×10 ft screens running active stereo to give you a 3D experience. It is great to be able to zoom from a landscape overview (shown), down to street level where you are immersed in a nearly 1:1 representation of the area. We are still working on a VSTV episode that will highlight the technologies used to build and display the project from creating the buildings in SketchUp Pro to showing the final ArcScene project in the immersive environment.
Here’s a pretty cool mashup for those gamers out there. For those unaware of the joys of running around a massive virtual world and smacking it’s denizens with a sharp pointy thing, Oblivion is a truly jaw dropping virtual (non-online) fantasy gaming world of massive proportions. You can easily loose days in that world, if you’re of the type to have such diversions. This Google Mashup certainly helps for tracking quests and the like.
Now if I could just access this thing from the map built into the game….
PacketGarden is a cool application (still in beta) that grows your own virtual world based on your internet activity. PacketGarden uses information about your internet use to generate this private world by taking note of the servers you visit and their geographic location, and how you interact with these sites. For example, uploads generate hills and downloads generate valleys, with relative locations determined by IP address locations. The more information it gathers, the more complex the virtual landscape becomes. I’ve downloaded it, and am going to give it try and hopefully post some screenshots as my own private virtual world unfolds.
I should definintely point out that is a beta, with a number of known bugs so you should definitely read the release notes before installing. For example, PacketGarden is not currently working on some AMD Athlon and all AMD64 Windows maching or Intel Macs.
Along with a new Congress, the Democrats are moving into a new venue – Second Life. George Miller (D-Calif) appeared in Second life to give a virtual question and answer session. It’s an interesting development, as it may be another way in which people can viably interact with their government. More people, government interaction is always a good thing.
This actually was announced Monday, but I couldn’t decide what approach to take when talking about the fact that Linden Labs has released the code for their Second Life client into the wild. I decided to go with…
This means a couple of things:
1) Second Life will become more robust as open source coders who are in Second Life will definitely support the cause of a more immersive VR, and
2) content specific Second Life clones are sure to surface with a reverse engineered server-side
But why should folks in the geospatial arena give a hoot. Well, one educational example, Second Life navigation is map based, whether you are walking or are transporting, you can keep up with where you are, and learn a little about spatial relationships in the software (compare the number of kids in Scouts doing orienteering to the number running around virtual worlds these days). With the opening of the code, new, better, more interesting and interactive maps could be created. Mash-ups on the Second Life world map anyone, maybe use GeoRSS with the inworld Second Life coordinate system. I don’t know, there seem to be a few things that would help (unintentionally of course) to teach spatial concepts and to continue to increase the visibility of geospatial technologies.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Second Lifers get hands on code
Episode 32 of MacBreak gives a nice video overview of how to use Google Sketchup in conjunction with Google Earth. While they demo it on a Mac, it works the same on Windows. It is a great activity to for fun and work. Keep an eye on VSTV in January or February to see an overview of the project Sue and the students in the lab whipped up over the summer.
MacBreak 32 – Google SketchUp
I am starting to catch up on some things I’ve missed while we were getting ready for the SEDAAG conference, and this project is one I’m really interested in. An article from November 13th discussed IBM’s announcement that they will be funding a project to create a “3D internet”. This project will be part of IBM’s $100 million InnovationJam initiative, which will support projects in a number of areas, including Web 2.0, visualization, and even research related to console processors, such as PS3 and XBOX 360. IBM already has a presence in Second Life, but in this project the company will focus on creating an open source 3D world.
Although there’s been a lot of research into this area, when a company like IBM, with its R & D resources, decides to get involved in developing 3D worlds, they have the capabilities to do things that the rest of us can only dream about.
I think I forgot to post this two weeks ago…but here it is. Realviz, a company that creates a variety of image software, has recently released a package called VTour that allows you to capture 3D models from a single image or panorama. Not quite the automated process that Photosynth promises, but there is GE integration. Not cheap, but if you are in education they have some nice discounts.
REALVIZ – VTour home page
I have been waiting for Photosynth to come out ever since I blogged it back in the summer. On Thursday, the Photosynth Technology Preview was finally made available for download. It is not a beta, since you can’t yet work with your own collections, but you can play with the functionality of the viewing environment using some collections. And, I have to say, I am totally impressed. The Photosynth demos show you the point cloud that was generated for each photo collection, and then you can navigate around and see each photo in its referenced location and look at the 3D rendering of the photos. Even though it’s not even a beta yet, I just think it’s cool. Many, many possibilities come to mind again, of course, by linking Photosynth to a virtual globe, such as, let’s say, Virtual Earth 3D…..
Some things to keep in mind, if you download it: Read the technical specs on download page. It only runs in IE 6 or 7, and there are some components that will need to be installed, but I had it up and running in about 2 minutes.